Sameer Makarius

Vision of Pipes Through a Pipe


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Sameer Makarius 1924–2009
Original title
Vision de caños a través de caño
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Image: 288 × 207 mm
Purchased with funds provided by Jack Kirkland 2012


Vision of Pipes Through a Pipe is a black and white photograph taken at one end of a circular pipe, through which the circular forms of other pipes can be seen at the other end of the pipe’s dark tunnel. The outer rim of the pipe, captured up close so that it reaches beyond the borders of the print, acts almost like a zoom lens by focusing attention on the shapes in the distance. The dramatic framing of the composition is enhanced by the contrasting tones within the picture, between the brightly-lit circles of the pipes’ outer edges and the dark shadows of their interiors, effects that also serve to accentuate the sense of depth within the image. Part of a group of photographs taken by Makarius in Buenos Aires during the 1950s, Vision of Pipes Through a Pipe reveals his interest in blurring the boundaries between representation and abstraction through photographic means, and his fascination with the materials and forms of the modern city.

Makarius was one of the most prolific photographers in Buenos Aires during the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Cairo in 1924 to an Egyptian father and a German mother, Makarius lived in Berlin as a child, and later Budapest, before moving to Argentina in 1953 where he lived until his death in 2009. While in Budapest during the Second World War, Makarius studied art and began his career as an abstract painter, before turning to photography in the mid-1940s. Quite soon after arriving in Buenos Aires in 1953, Makarius started to record life in the city with his camera. He photographed the city in exhaustive detail, from its best known monuments and buildings to its parks, bars, theatres, lottery shops and hoisting cranes, often homing in on everyday details such as door handles, canaries in cages, or flapping laundry in the street. He visited every neighbourhood in the city, photographing its street vendors, football matches, families on their Sunday afternoon outings, the horse races – any subject that caught his eye. From Liniers to Constitucio´n, from Recoleta to the parks in Palermo, Makarius went everywhere, but especially to La Boca, a working-class riverside neighbourhood located in the capital’s south-eastern corner, once the favoured destination of Italian immigrants.

Makarius’s work is characterised by a classic documentary style that demonstrates not only a sensitive attention to details, but also an awareness of the ability of each image to transcend its subject matter and convey an essence of the city depicted. Some of his compositions, with their oblique angles and cropped viewpoints, show the influence of avant-garde photography from Europe, and in particular constructivist photography, which Makarius would have been familiar with from his time in Germany and Hungary.

The artist published his exhaustive visual chronicles of Buenos Aires in 1960 in his first book Buenos Aires y su gente (Buenos Aires and its People), followed by a second book Buenos Aires, mi ciudad (Buenos Aires, My City) published in 1963.

Further reading
Córdova Iturburu, ‘Introduction’, in Sameer Makarius, Buenos Aires y su gente, Buenos Aires 1960, unpaginated.
Sameer Makarius, Buenos Aires, mi ciudad, Buenos Aires 1963.
Sameer Makarius, Makarius: Retratos / Portraits, ed. by María Torres, Buenos Aires 2007.

Iria Candela and Gaia Tedone
June 2012

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